Michelle and her daughter pose with the Philly Phanatic at Lung Love Run/Walk Philly.

By Michelle Russo

Up until the fall of 2010, I had never heard of Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA).  I was still in the throes of my husband’s sudden onset of lung cancer and his death within 39 days of diagnosis.  Lou passed away on July 9, 2010 at the age of 57.

Later that year, in November, my daughter called to tell me that she was headed to a lung cancer vigil in Denver, CO where she was attending graduate school.  When I hung up the phone I immediately googled lung cancer vigils.  This is how I found LCA.

Before I knew it, I was in Washington, DC for the National Advocacy Summit.  I remember walking into a large reception hall where everyone was sitting at a table listening to a speaker and then they began to pass the microphone. Each person was telling their own story about how lung cancer impacted their life. I remember thinking how almost everyone was a family member; there were very few survivors.

Michelle and Lou

Since then I have attended more Summits, hosted many Shine a Light on Lung Cancer events each November, ran fundraisers and coordinated the Lung Love Run/Walk Philly 5K  for three consecutive years (our 4th coming up on April 22nd!).  Most importantly, I have raised awareness for this horrific disease and guided individuals to the resources they need in their own fight.  I have been there to support patients and families.  I have become an advocate!

My husband was always very proud of me. He would brag about my accomplishments and I would blush.  I know that once again I have made him proud.  I continue to volunteer in his memory but also for everyone still fighting lung cancer.

In the six short years that Lou has been gone, I am amazed at the changes in the lung cancer community. When I attend a Summit now I sit in awe of all the survivors in the room! However, we have a very long way to go!

My affiliation with LCA has changed my life. When I needed to change my sorrow and negativity into something positive, LCA provided me with that opportunity. I would encourage everyone to reach out and volunteer or participate in an event. The reward is twofold; you are helping change the face of lung cancer AND you are receiving an immeasurable feeling of fulfillment.

Join Michelle at Lung Love Run/Walk Philly on April 22nd at the Philadelphia Zoo. Click here to learn more!

Interested in attending the 2017 National Advocacy Summit in Washington DC this fall? Click here!